How mindless is our eating?
We find the typical person believes they make 15 decisions about food a day, but in reality they make well over 200. Take this morning ' you decide what kind of cereal you want, whether you want half a bowl or a full bowl, whether or not to have a refill, put whole milk or skim milk on it, and whether or not to put sugar on it. So before you even have a bite to eat you've implicitly made at least a dozen decisions. The problem lies in that most people think they've only made one, whether to have Corn Flakes or Fruit Loops. There's in fact all of these other things around us that can be traps.
What are some of these traps?
One is when it comes to determining what portion we're going to pour and eat. What's the right amount of cereal or popcorn to pour? Who knows? So we look around us very subconsciously for cues to suggest the appropriate amount. Those cues might be the size of the bowl, size of a plate ' 6 ounces of pasta on an 8-inch plate looks like a pretty good serving, but those same 6 ounces on a 12-inch plate doesn't even look like an appetizer. So just visually you're going to use more ' in fact, 25 percent more if you bump up the size of the plate. Proximity of the food to where we're sitting is another. We did an experiment with secretaries where we gave them free Hershey Kisses on their desk. Every night we would go and refill the dish. We found if we put it on their desk, they would eat about nine of these kisses a day. If we put it a few feet away, the number dropped down to four.
Yes, but food still has to taste good, doesn't it?
When we've talked to people who said they've overeaten in a given situation and asked them why, they usually say they were really hungry, or the food was really good. These two things do influence people, but so do very simple cues around us. We designed this situation in a movie theater where people were neither hungry nor given good food. We took people, who had just finished dinner, and we gave them popcorn that was 14 days old ' it was like Styrofoam pellets. We gave it to them in large or medium sized buckets. Even though these people were full and even though the popcorn was terrible, they still ended up eating 35 percent more if they were given a bigger bucket.
People will eat more just because the bucket is bigger?
That's what makes these cues around us so powerful. We all believe that we're too smart to be influenced by them. We believe we're independent minded and masters of our own destinies. To acknowledge that something silly like the size of a dish would cause us to eat twice as much is a thorn to our own self-identity. The difference between being two to three pounds heavier one year from today is really just the difference between eating 25 more calories a day, and that's the difference of five M&Ms a day for a year.
Five M&Ms isn't much, but what about the other direction? How much can we cut out, but not really notice?
Nobody gains 50 pounds overnight. Most people gain 50 pounds at the rate of 2-5 pounds per year. Yet when we want to lose weight, we expect to lose that 50 pounds over a weekend. If we go on a deprivation diet ' you know one of the popular ones ' we might lose the weight, but it's very temporary because we haven't changed the rest of the patterns in our lives. The key to losing that weight is to do it the same way we gained it, which is reasonably slow. We can cut 300-400 calories out of our day, everyday. We won't really notice it; we won't feel deprived, but over the course of year that's 30-40 pounds.
You don't think too much of most diets, which you consider deprivation. What's the alternative?
There are people out there who say, "That's it, I'm never going to have French fries; I'm never going to have pizza; or I'm never going to eat cheese again." Isn't life too short to be doing this sort of stuff? Instead we find if people at least get a taste of the food they like, get a fix, what it does is prevent this backfiring that deprivation can cause in the long term. If you say you're never going to eat another French fry again, it's not going to be long before you hate yourself, your diet, and are eating every French fry McDonald's can make in an hour.
So we don't need to deprive ourselves, but we should cut down on the amount?
We want to re-engineer our homes, change our patterns, so we eat 200 fewer calories a day instead of 200 more. If we buy bulk amounts of cookies, we break them down into smaller bags, so we're not tempted to eat them all at once. We store them somewhere, so they aren't sitting on the table waiting for us to devour. Move the cookie jar out of our traffic path, or better yet replace it with a fruit bowl. It also makes a difference where we decide to store foods in our house, whether we put them in that convenient cupboard we open 30 times a day, or we put them down low, up high, or behind other items.
Casual cool for Thanksgiving
Shop Lafayette goes strong
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
A divided 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a Lafayette district judge’s ruling absolving the co-owner of a New Iberia accounting firm of liability in an embezzlement case.
Our View: It’s reasonable, temporary and invests in Lafayette’s future.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
Three bedroom in Port Barre or two bedroom in Opelousas
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
“I am only getting a little nervous about two projects — the proposed Sasol GTL facility [not the new ethylene plant] and the proposed G2X facility — both in Lake Charles. They need a hefty difference between oil and natural gas prices to make sense.”
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Lower oil prices also might slow the growth of oil production in parts of the U.S., Canada and elsewhere because it will no longer be so profitable.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
A Lafayette woman faces up to 20 years in prison for running up more than $1 million in unauthorized charges to her company credit card.
Signs that our state’s banking industry is undergoing a downsizing in 2014 were further confirmed today with the FDIC’s latest figures showing a third straight quarter in which Louisiana lost more banks and earned less money.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
State police say a 47-year-old Lafayette man, who collected more than $83,000 in disability benefits, is accused of operating two businesses out of his home at a time when he claimed he had no income.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.